What To Do When Your Husband Is Controlling

Updated September 7, 2023by Regain Editorial Team
Navigating a marriage can be really challenging at times but can come with its rewards too. Try to remember the good things about your husband, while also putting efforts towards letting him know how and when you feel controlled. ” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

If you feel controlled by your husband, you may also feel like you have slowly changed into a different, weaker person since you've been together. You may not like the new person that you’ve become. You might be wondering what to do if you’re married to a controlling spouse.

Below you will find tips to help you determine whether your husband is controlling. These are the same strategies that can be used to identify a controlling wife. From there, you will find advice on what you should do if you're living with a controlling spouse.

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Do You Feel Powerless In Your Relationship?

Signs Of A Controlling Husband

If you’re feeling controlled by your husband, chances are your instincts are on point. Still, there are some signs to look for if you need validation. 

He Separates You From Your Family And Friends

When a husband is controlling, he may want to isolate you to get you in a position where you don't have a support network outside of him. That allows him to have the most control over what you do and think. He might accomplish this by slowly getting you to withdraw from your family and friends.

There's a chance that he did this while you were dating, too. You might not have noticed because you were caught up in the newness and excitement of the relationship. In that first stage of love, it can be normal to want to spend all your time with your significant other.

If you didn’t withdraw from friends and family on your own, he may have encouraged you to do so. For example, he may have pointed out things that he didn't like about your group of friends or said things that caused you to question whether they were really your friends. He may have always had something else planned for the two of you to do when you had family get-togethers, so you never ended up going to them. He may have even moved you out of state or far enough away that you couldn't fall back on your relationships with others.

Without realizing it, you may have pulled back from your previous relationships with friends and family. When you have a question or need advice, you might have only your husband to turn to.

He Constantly Criticizes You

If you have a controlling husband, you might receive a lot of criticism. This is another way that he can control you. Using this tactic, he may chip away at your self-esteem little by little. Criticism doesn't have to take the form of direct insults. Instead, it might look like small, but frequent jabs. He might make negative comments about the way you look, keep house, cook, work, or exercise, for instance. 

By criticizing you enough, he might be able to make you start to doubt yourself. You could begin losing your self-esteem and come to rely on him more. The less you trust yourself, the more power your husband may have over you. 

He Manipulates You Into Getting What He Wants

Your husband may be a master of manipulation. He might know just what to say to play to your emotions and manipulate you into getting his way. This could mean making you feel like you don't measure up to him, that you're not good enough, or that you're lucky you have him because no one else would want to be with you.

He might blow everything you do out of proportion. Perhaps he knows how to twist your words around to give them a different meaning than what you were trying to communicate. This can progress to the point that you don't want to say anything because you know that he will twist it around to manipulate you or paint you in a negative light.

He Needs To Know Everything

It's important to build a marriage with open and honest communication, but a controlling husband may not know where to draw the line. He might do things like check your phone records even though you've given him no reason to be suspicious, drive by your work to see if your car is there, read your emails, or listen in on your phone calls. 

Overly Jealous

Some level of jealousy might be normal in relationships, but the jealousy of a controlling husband may far surpass that. Perhaps he's constantly thinking that you're sneaking around. He may think that every innocent interaction you have with another person is flirtatious. You may not be able to have a simple conversation without him getting upset about it. 

He Always Makes You Feel "Less Than" Him

When you have a controlling husband, you may feel like you’re never good enough. He may have himself on a pedestal. In reality, his ego might be a cover for his secret insecurity, but he may not let you see that side of him.

Instead, he might project his insecurities onto you. If you do well at something, he may belittle it to make himself feel better. You may feel like no matter what you do, you can never live up to his standards.

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Dangers Of Being Married To A Controlling Husband

The potential danger of being married to a controlling husband is that it can lead to abuse. Be mindful that abuse doesn't have to be physical. A controlling husband may be emotionally abusive to you, and there can be verbal abuse present as well. However, since he may excel at manipulation, if you even hint that you think his behavior is abusive, he may twist everything around until he has you believing that you're the one with a problem. A controlling husband may love to play the victim.

Another danger of being married to a controlling husband is having your self-esteem and confidence destroyed. You may try to resist it, but eventually, his words and behavior could damage the way you feel about yourself.

You may have some days where you feel strong. But if you try to stand up for yourself, he may figure out how to turn your words around until it sounds like you're the one who is being controlling.

Eventually, you may find that you’re beginning to doubt yourself. You might start to struggle with feelings of despair and incompetence. You could start to feel like a shell of the person that you once were. The dreams and goals that you had for yourself may start to seem far off.

What To Do If You're Married To A Controlling Husband

When you're married to a controlling husband, the situation can feel hopeless. Once you think you're strong enough to start making a change in your relationship or stop putting up with his behavior, he might take control of you again. It can become a cycle that's hard to break.

Here are some things that you can do if your husband is controlling.

Talk To Him 

Try calmly talking to him about how his behavior and words are making you feel. There's always the chance that he doesn't realize that his behavior is coming across like this and will be willing to change. However, if you've gone this route before and it hasn't worked, then move on to something else.

Re-Connect With Your Friends And Family

Once you're aware of his controlling behaviors, you may be able to spot the ways he’s separated you from your family and friends. Decide to reconnect with them, and start making time for them. This doesn't mean that you have to give them all your time, but don't be afraid to go out to dinner with your friends, visit your parents on a Sunday afternoon, or talk to any of them when you need someone to lean on. Build a support network that you can turn to when you're struggling in life and with your marriage.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is important when working to take control of any mental health challenge. It can help you to overcome things like anxiety and depression. It can also be helpful when you're working on building your confidence and self-esteem.

Self-care includes things that you do to take care of and refresh yourself. This could be journaling, meditation, reading, or creating art. It might also include things like eating right, getting plenty of rest, and exercising. These are things that can help you to feel better physically and mentally.

Do You Feel Powerless In Your Relationship?

Talk To A Therapist

When you've been living with a controlling person, it can be hard to break the cycle. When controlling behavior persists and includes emotional abuse, it may be time to leave the relationship. There are professional mental health services that can help support and guide you through this separation process.

If you’re in a controlling relationship, though, it can be challenging to meet with a therapist in person. Your husband may not agree with your decision to seek counseling, for example, and he could try to prevent you from getting the help you need. In circumstances like this, online therapy may be more suitable. You can start this form of counseling from your home or anywhere you have an internet connection. You can also communicate with your therapist via in-app messaging or by phone. 

Research in the field of mental health supports the use of internet-based therapy for individuals and couples. A comprehensive meta-analysis of studies confirmed that it is just as effective as in-person therapy for addressing various mental health challenges and conditions. 


If you suspect your husband is controlling, a licensed therapist like those at Regain can help you sort through your situation. They can help you identify what has happened in your relationship that led to this point and help you pinpoint strategies to improve your marriage. If you find that ending your relationship is the healthiest thing for you, your therapist can help you work through the separation. Reach out today.

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